''Charleene The Black Mermaid''
When I was in the first grade, the teacher (as teachers do) asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some kids said teachers or veterinarians etc. At my turn I responded that I wanted to be a mermaid. The class laughed. I was humiliated and my teacher informed me that a mermaid was not an option. A few years later in the 4th grade again my teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. My answer was that I wanted to be a Soul Train dancer. The class laughed and my teacher informed me that being a Soul Train dancer was not an option as I was not black (keep in mind this was the 1970's and Soul Train later did add white dancers which, in my opinion, was the downfall of the show).
Where is this all going you ask? Well, I found this old rusty green metal and wood gardening tool and immediately I thought it resembled a mermaid tail. That was the start of this piece. As I collected the components and worked on the weave, I decided that I wanted her to be a black mermaid. I often work with very expensive porcelain doll heads from around the 1920's. I quickly realised that finding black porcelain or bisque doll part was extemelt difficult. And then it was clear to me that little black girls didn't have porcelain dolls. They weren't created at all. Most little girls of colour would play with handmade dolls. I became overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of these girls not having the option of high quality dolls who they could relate to. And it's just these sorts of things that white folks don't even think about. I'm thankful that through my process that I was allowed to have this revelation. I was finally able to track down a few porcelain black doll heads which are dated on the backs to be made in the 1980's and I snatched them up to work with. And this is my first piece of that series.
Here we have Charleene The Black Mermaid (and Soul Train dancer). Her inspiring tail is a vintage gardening tool that was the perfect colour and aged beautifully so I had to do very little to it. Just a few oil pastel highlights and beading with watercoloured sea urchins (which repeat throughout the piece). Her tail is attached to a very old rusty beer can with wire and a large golden goodwill bead similar to the one placed at her neck. I brought the can back to life a bit with acrylic paints, a medallion of Poseidon and a broken off piece of costume jewelry. She also wears a Marvelettes pin as she's a super fan. More beading and urchins and two sea urchin spines to act as flippers. Charleene's ebony head is porcelain and dated from the 1980's. I highlighted it with paints and microbeads. Her eyes are heavyweight blown glass done for me by a lovely woman who lives in Osaka. I really brought the drama around her crown with urchins, dyes, beading and sea findings. The veiled netting around her face is a lovely touch but can also be removed. Then with her hair. I wanted some serious long hair don't care seaweed realness but it was also inspired and is giving me Michael Jackson 'Remember The Time' backup dancer hair. All synthetic and quite tedious to work on. Yes it's a weave but Charleene insists that it is her real hair. And don't dispute her on that.
Charleene The Black Mermaid is a wall piece. She hangs beautifully from one tiny nail. And she is everything.
So I might have not been able to become a mermaid. I might not have been able to become a Soul Train dancer. But I just made the fuck out of a Soul Train dancing mermaid and I love it. #dreamscancometrue #art #artist #assemblage #sculpture #mermaid #black #blackhairmatters #african #PaulMoschell #studio #denver #OoAK #oneofakind #character #foundobject #beautiful #odd #soultrain #new
Charleene The Black Mermaid
''Charleene The Black Mermaid''